Masks: We All Wear Them

This one time, I went to Greece, and saw this statue

Have you ever felt like you’re faking your way through life? I have. Our faces are masks, displaying what we hope the world will see. We can project only what we want, and hide the rest within ourselves. Our clothes are layers that cover scars accumulated over the years. Makeup paints a face completely invented, possibly fake. No one has to know.

On my blog I wear a mask, as do all bloggers. The internet is the easiest place to display tiny bits of information. We can fabricate every detail, sculpt what we maybe wish was la verdad (truth). We withhold our identities, names, souls, locations (understandably, for our own safety). We let readers in only so far, slamming the doors in their faces when they are unwelcome.

There are people in our lives (and bloggers) who are those “open books.” They travel to the depths of their pain and spill stories some may consider too personal. This could be therapeutic. Maybe it’s engrained in their personalities to wash off their makeup, peel away the layers, and lift the masks away from their faces.

Yet at times, everyone has worn a mask. Some for years, others for only specific periods of their daily lives. At work when we want to look put together. For our friends who need us to listen and forget about our own problems for a while. In front of strangers who have no business seeing us without a painted face.

Throughout the ups and downs of life, trusting and mistrusting the hundreds of faces I’ve seen, I’ve learned something: It’s all about who is worth it. I wear a mask every day, depending on who I’m around. But I keep my life to myself unless I know the person is worth lifting away the mask for.

“Isn’t that tedious?”

Maybe. But I’d rather wear a mask for people who have not yet earned my trust.

Wearing makeup is tiring; washing it off is a relief. But once a cut heals, the scar is branded on your skin forever. You can cover it, but beneath the clothing, it’s still there. I would rather wear a mask until I know it’s safe.

Does this mean that if we wear masks, we are faking it? Not necessarily. In my mind, wearing a mask means concealing particular aspects of oneself. We may fake a smile, a laugh, or even spill a white lie from our lips.

Some people may go overboard and invent a new person to show the world. But this isn’t healthy, because the lies will eat the person alive eventually.

Wearing a mask is survival. Revealing too much could allow someone to take advantage, use information against the person, or judge him or her negatively. Possible damage is irreversible. Masks are shields to hopefully prevent pain.

At the end of the day, I wash my face and look in the mirror. No smile, no gold shimmer on my eye lids, no pink lip gloss. I know one person who I can live with, without wearing a mask. I relax my shoulders, knowing I don’t need to wear a mask for myself. Some cannot say this. Some people are running their entire lives, searching for their missing identities. They hide within the depths of what they wish they could be, painting a beautiful mask that isn’t la verdad.

Not everyone who looks in the mirror understands what they see, appreciates it, or even accepts it. I have been one of those people in the past. But I’m not that person anymore. I’ve taken the mask off for myself, finally. And I’m slowly finding who else is worth it.

I feel safe enough to not wear a mask for myself.

 

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How Do You Cope With Stress?

Anxiety. Panic sets in, and tension headaches overpower your brain. You toss and turn at night, sleeping maybe 45 minutes total. You clench your teeth throughout the day because your entire body is tense. This is your body under stress.

We’ve all been there, and for millions of reasons. The reasons don’t matter because our bodies all react in similar ways in response to stressful situations. The way we cope with anxiety is how we eliminate, or at least manage, that stress.

Everyone deals with stress in their own way. As long as you find healthy coping mechanisms that works for you, then stick with it.

I have found a few ways to manage my stress, and so far they have worked for me:

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  1. Tea. Lots of it. Usually with lemon and honey.

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  2. Yoga. Namaste. Meditation and breathing exercises are crucial for managing my stress.

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  3. The occasional vent. Sometimes a girl just has to vent to a friend about what’s going on.

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  4. A television show, movie, or standup comedy. I need something to keep my mind distracted, so watching something funny or lighthearted helps me. My favorite guilty pleasure show: Sex and the City.

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  5. Writing about my stress. Once I get what’s in my head down on paper, I feel a miniscule weight of stress lifted off my tired shoulders.

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  6. Walking out in the fresh air. Seriously, being outside is relaxing, especially when I’m stressed out. It calms my mind.

It’s taken me some time to find what works for me. Also, it can be tricky to deal with the stress right away. At times, anxiety can be overwhelming, and we have to remind ourselves to manage it, cope with it, and breathe.

When you’re stressed out, how do you cope?

 

 

 

Figuring myself out (I’m working on it)

Laughter is my workout.

For me, life is a daily learning process. I am constantly evolving as a person, and I believe that over time, I have hopefully become more self aware. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far in the time I’ve spent with myself so far:

  1. Writing will forever be my therapy
  2. I will never master the art of drinking coffee without spilling a bit on myself
  3. Or tea
  4. Or any food/beverage, for that matter
  5. Reading is my inspiration for future writing
  6. I may never understand the world, but I sure have my opinions about it

I wrote a blog post recently about how we are taught by society that we should want to find that one person to spend our lives with, but I believe that we are free to have our own life goals. That said, I have a confession to make:

My future self totally wants to find a cool person to spend my time with.

The thing is: People always say, “You should be happy alone before you can be happy with someone else.” This piece of advice totally contradicts the famous “You complete me” romantic movie theme. Which idea do you agree with? Personally, I prefer the first one.

In life, millions are searching for outward sources of happiness. The perfect job. The perfect house. Boyfriend. Girlfriend. The perfect body. The perfect outfit. Advertisements sell us the idea from birth that we need things to make us happy. Yet when we realize that our purchases don’t make us happy, what do we do? Buy more things. We grow up to be consumers, searching for happiness outside of ourselves. If we live that way, we may never be happy.

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I’ve been guilty of believing that I need to look outside myself to be happy. I don’t know about your life experiences, but there is emptiness in it, and the emptiness can outweigh the possible happiness.

Say we have realized that buying things to make ourselves happy is unhealthy. What’s the next best way to make us happy? Relationships. Finding a person to “complete us” sounds romantic. It’s not. I want to be complete on my own. I’m still figuring myself out. I don’t have time to figure someone else out at the same time.

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Dating someone in hopes that he or she will fulfill your deepest desires is putting a lot of pressure on someone else. Instead of finding someone to “complete you,” wouldn’t it be better to find someone who complements you? To me, that’s more attainable.

Society pressures us to crave relationships before we’ve figured ourselves out. Movies tell us that we are not happy until we’ve found someone who completes us (because apparently we’re not complete alone?). If we’re not married before a certain age (25, 30, 35, whatever age the judgmental person decides), we are pitied or scolded to “settle down.” All because we have been taught that we need to look outside ourselves for happiness in life.

Figuring myself out is a lifelong process. Part of that process is making myself happy. I can be happy doing yoga, writing poetry, blogging, reading the Hunger Games series. I am working to complete myself. It’s a journey, and I know I’ll reach my destination eventually.

I’ve also learned: The only time my makeup looks like this is when someone does it for me.